Introduction: criminology, economism and culturalism Gregg Barak (2000) recently made the observation that neither the global system nor local culture can be allowed to eclipse each other if sophisticated criminological analyses are to be made. Although he could be insisting on compulsory balance in an extremely variable relation where balance is not always to be found, his comment certainly does describe the intellectual spectrum that has come to be defined at its extremes by economism/structuralism and culturalism. Economism, the notion that most of what we think, feel or do is determined in the last instance by the prevailing economic system, has along with biologism and conservatism been the principal target of critique in post-war liberal criminology. However, although much of that critique is deserved, we think it's also fair to say that the alternative possibility of criminology becoming too heavily influenced by culturalism has received far less critical attention. Culturalism is of course an extreme variant of cultural theory, a sort of inverted base/superstructure model that posits culture's diverse sets of meanings and values as the essentially pluralist bedrockof human existence, in which everything else - nature, economy, social relations, identity, politics and of course crimeand violence - becomes a malleable, contested product of inter-subjective interpretations and discursive power-strugglesrather than a feature of the mutating realities produced by historical processes (Hall 1997; Eagleton 2000).
|Title of host publication
|Cultural Criminology Unleashed
|Taylor & Francis
|Number of pages
|Published - 1 Jan 2016